Returning to the ring after an 11-month layoff due to a broken jaw, Joe "The Beast" Smith, Jr. provided early fireworks last night (Saturday, June 30) in the latest installment in the popular "Slugfest at The Sun" series, presented by Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
"Slugfest at The Sun" was taped live and will air July 19, 8 -10 p.m. ET, on New England Sports Network (NESN). Star Boxing's next event, "Rockin' Fights", September 21 at the Paramount in Huntington, NY, will also air via tape- delay on NESN.
Rated No. 3 and No. 7 in the world, respectively, by the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA), Smith (24-2, 20 KOs) hurt Melvin "The Romantic Redneck" Russell (11-5-2, 7 KOs) with the first punch he landed and finished the show, two devastating knockdowns later, in the opening round.
"I hit him with a decent shot when I was walking him down and saw that I hurt him," Joe Smith Jr. explained. "So, I looked to end it. I would have liked to have gotten some rust off, but I'm happy with my performance. My jaw feels great."
"We're looking to go to the top," Smith's promoter Joe DeGuardia stated. "Joe's plan and goal has always been to be world champion. We wanted (Sergey) Kovalev before this fight, but it didn't work out. We're hoping to get him in the fall."
"Kovalev looks great, he motivates me," Smith noted. "I think I can take advantage of his conditioning."
Coming off her historic fight this past May against the undefeated Queen of Boxing Cecelia Breakhus, who won a 10-round decision in the first female fight to air on HBO, three-time world champion Kali "KO Mequinonoag" Reis (14-7-1, 4 KOs) cruised past Mexican welterweight Patty "Las Elegante" Ramirez (11-6, 5 KOs), a former world title challenger, winning all eight rounds.
"She was a survivor," Reis commented. "There was a lot we wanted to work on, body shots, jabs and more ... getting more comfortable. I executed the plan my corner gave me and got the job done.
A Native American from Rhode Island, Reis wants a rematch with Breakhus, "I know I need to stay busy, active and remain fighting at welterweight to get the rematch," Reis added. "I'm going to stay on her tail. I'll be ready when it happens, I really want it to happen."
In the television opener, undefeated junior welterweight "Action" Anthony Laureano (8-0 3KO's) lived up to his nickname, never taking a backwards step, as he pounded Juan Rodriguez (8-10-1 6KO's) in the center of the ring from the opening bell through the end for a dominant six-round unanimous decision. The 2016 New England Golden Gloves champion Laureano, who fights out of East Hartford, CT, put on an entertaining show in front of his large, loud contingent of fans. Laureano effectively used every punch in his vast arsenal to break down a tough, game Rodriguez.
"I thought I did well," Laureano said after the fight, "but I'd like to see more angles. I want to see more power, too. It's there, he felt it; it's coming. I have a long road. Next fight, I'd like to have an eight-rounder. We're adding more people to the team. I hope everyone see that I'm getting better each fight. I have more tools and my discipline is there."
Undefeated junior middleweight Wendy "Haitian Fire" Toussaint (9-0, 3 KOs) lit up an overwhelmed Andy Gonzalez (6-3, 5 KOs), battering him from pillar to post, until referee Steve Willis waved off the fight in the third round. Haiti-native Toussaint, now living in Huntington, NY, used his superior power and speed to make an impressive statement.
Popular South Boston southpaw Joe Farina (3-0, 2 KOs) overcame a flash knockdown during the opening seconds of the fight, using a relentless attack to defeat junior welterweight Steve Moore (1-4, 1 KO), by way of a four-round split decision.
Irish junior welterweight "Lethal" Larry Fryers (formerly known as Gleeson) improved his record to 7-1 (2 KOs) with a six-round unanimous decision over Anthony Woods (1-7-1). Fighting out of Yonkers NY, Fryers floored Woods with a left hook at the end of round two. Woods was penalized a point near the end of the final round for an intentional head butt.
Former U. of New Haven basketball star Cassius Chaney (13-0, 7 KOs), fighting out of New London (CT), kept his undefeated record intact, dropping Mexican heavyweight Elder Hernandez (5-3, 3 KOs) twice before referee Willis halted the match near the end of the opening round.
The opening bout of the evening ended in the second round and ruled a "No Contest" because of an accidental head butt that left both fighters -- William "The Silent Assassin" Foster III (8-0, 6 KOs) and Tyrome Jones (4-3-1, 1 KO) - with serious head cuts and unable to continue.